Walk-and-Talk: University of Newcastle team taking men’s therapy outdoors

Monday, 27 May 2024

Depression is a leading mental health concern in men. Yet, less than half of affected men seek professional help, and when they do, services are often not responsive to their needs.

Man sitting on couch with hands clasped
While therapy is effective for treating depression, men are more likely than women to ‘dropout’ early, often after the first session.

A team at the University of Newcastle is exploring how therapy can be tailored to better suit men through a clinical trial. This research is supported by a $780k grant from the National Health & Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and the Medical Research Future Fund.

The clinical trial, led by Dr Myles Young, will compare conventional indoor therapy to ‘walk-and-talk’ therapy, to determine if taking therapy outdoors improves men’s engagement and clinical outcomes. Dr Young is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Newcastle and part of Hunter Medical Research Institute’s (HMRI) Active Living and Learning Research Program.

While therapy is effective for treating depression, men are more likely than women to ‘dropout’ early, often after the first session. This may be because the formal therapy setting clashes with society’s traditional expectations of masculinity, which expect men to be stoic and self-reliant.

In contrast, walk-and-talk therapy creates shared ownership of the space in which therapy takes place, which may provide a less pressured environment for men to engage. It also draws on the benefits of physical activity and exposure to nature for reducing depressive symptoms.

The clinical trial will compare the effect of the two types of therapy on the mental health of the participants. For more information, please visit .

* HMRI is a partnership between the University of Newcastle, Hunter New England Health, and the community.


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